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Old 04-06-2014, 08:03 AM #1
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Default Laser Line Safety

I'm worried about the built in lasers on my construction tools after reading on here and wikipedia about the risks of eye damage from exposure to class 3a lasers. I have a drill press with two red line lasers class IIIa. They come together to form an x/y axis on the drilling table which is shiny steel. I have heard steel is highly reflective. The warnings all say to avoid direct eye contact with the lasers. Well I was reading about the class IIIa laser safety hazards which seems to be a grey area for being safe or not to use around reflective surfaces.

Q1: Are there any risks from the laser beams reflecting off the steel table?

Q2: What is the Maximum Permissible Exposure limit for such reflections? I.E. if I'm drilling 4 hours at a time staring at that red laser line, will it hurt my eyes?

Q3: Each laser is class IIIa not more than 5 mw. Since there are two, does that mean their powers combine to be equivalent to an even more dangerous 10 mw laser if they are both 5 mw?

Q4: It is my understanding that laser pointers are dangerous to the retina because a very large amount of energy is concentrated on a tiny area. I'm trying to understand how a 5mw line laser compares to a laser pointer. A line laser beam is spread out and not concentrated like a pointer. It seems a line laser of equal power would have substantially less eye damage potential.

Hypothetically if the beam from a 5 mw laser pointer had a diameter of 1 cm when shined on a surface. Compare that to a hypothetical 5 mw line laser shining a beam 1 cm wide x 30 cm long. Wouldn't the line laser be 30 times less likely to cause eye damage because the beam is spread out over a surface area 30 times larger than the laser pointer?

Q5: I'm afraid of the lasers accidentally shining into my eyes if I lean in too close or bend down to grab something off the floor. With murphy in the shop, I'm paranoid having a laser that can do instant damage to the eye if the blink reflex doesnt happen quick enough. What would happen if the eye took a hit from a class IIIa line laser?



Last edited by donaldduck; 04-06-2014 at 08:38 AM.
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